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CJ Experience: Hurricane Dennis

People recall their experience with Hurricane Dennis.

MSNBC is asking people to send in their experiences with the impact of Hurricane Dennis:

Destin diary
I moved to Destin, Fla. two weeks before Hurricane Ivan hit. I left town when it approached us, but decided to stay for Dennis. Saturday morning it was only a Category II and I felt fairly secure as I live about a mile from the beach. I boarded up the windows of my townhouse that face east and west, omitting to board up those on the north (I won't make that mistake again). Sunday morning weather reports state that Dennis is strengthening and heading in a NW direction between Mobile and Pensacola. I still have time to leave, but cannot decide whether to go west through Pensacola and toward family in Mandeville, La., or go east toward friends in Tallahassee and the "wrong side" of a hurricane to be; so, I decide to stay and ride it out.

Around 1:30-2:00 p.m. the wind has increased dramatically and is blowing rain through the windows on the North side of my townhouse. I grab towels, move boxes, etc. out of the way, and try to block the water entering the windows; but it is coming through. Grabbing buckets, I place one by both windows, and race upstairs and downstairs wringing the towels into the buckets (small hand towels at the middle of the double-hung windows, large bath towels on the sills). While upstairs, I hear what sounds like a crash and go downstairs. One of the sheets of plywood covering the sliding glass patio doors has fallen off. I grab a hammer and nails, exit the front door (the rear patio doors are partially blocked by the remaining sheet of plywood) run through the wind and rain to the back patio and nail the fallen plywood to the remaining sheet of plywood and door trim. Running back to the front door, I am completely soaked. Once again, I begin the routine of running up and down stairs wringing the towels of excess water into the buckets, praying this will end. At about 2:40 p.m., my cable and electricity go out. Fortunately, soon after, the wind changes from the north to the east and finally the south. By 5:00 p.m., the rain has diminished and I enter my truck and turn on the radio. With news that Dennis has reached landfall around Navarre Beach (about 30 miles West of Destin) and has lost strength, I feel much more secure. The rain has almost stopped and the wind has diminished, so, I venture to the beach. The wind is much stronger and the ocean is churning a brown, murky, color with white caps and foam; foam is blowing everywhere and sticking to buildings and everything; the facades of the stucco buildings look as if they "freckles" where the foam was sticking to them in round circles. A mandatory curfew began at 6:00 p.m. so I head back home. Soon, the rain and wind picks up again. Apparently, Dennis was not through with Destin; but, fortunately, the worst was over. It has been almost 30 hours without electricity, but it is back on. I had only minor damage (especially compared to Ivan). We in NW Florida were very, very, fortunate. This time.
--Henry Hanisee, Destin, Fla.

Fighting fear in Alabama
Dennis was a scary storm, and having been thru Ivan, I was nervous. Fortunately, Dennis made landfall east of us and we got the west side of the hurricane, which was a lot of rain, gusty winds and a huge relief. Our power flickered but stayed on. South of I-10 was ordered to evacuate but we decided to stay put, our house is sturdy (it weathered Frederic, it'll weather anything!) However, the TVand radio reports were frightening. EMS called at 4 a.m. with an automated message telling us that we were endangering the lives of our families and that we should evacuate by 2 a.m. (mind you, this is 4 a.m. when they called!) Of course I couldn't get back to sleep and had to fight fear. I prayed a lot (eyes on Jesus!) The area that did get hit hard was the area they did not have mandatory evacuation. What a weekend. I was exhausted and slept a lot throughout yesterday. Today it's back to work in Gulf Shores area, but not much is open, everything is still boarded up and non-operational. I'm sorry for the panhandle of Florida, those folks are hurting, but I'm grateful that we escaped it this time.... the price you pay for living here!!
--J.P., Fairhope, Ala.

Counting their blessings
I live in Shalimar, Fla. on the bayou near Ft. Walton Beach and we are counting our blessings that Dennis was a fast mover, not a Category 4 and that he came in the daylight hours it made him not seem as bad as Ivan was -- even though the winds and gusts were strong. I don't mind losing the tops of two trees and a privacy fence along with damage to our shed, at least our home is intact. Ivan caused a lot damage to our home, but the new roof, ceilings and door has made a difference. We are blessed that our damage from Ivan on the house is completed unlike a lot of homes here in Ft Walton and to Pensacola. My street still has three houses with blue roofs and several with tar paper on them from Ivan. No power tonight but a generator has made a great difference with Dennis. Makes me wonder why I waited till June, 2005 to get one. Nothing like having lights, fan and your refrigerator working. I really hated to have to clean out and throw away food after Ivan. Well guess I get to clean up the yard tomorrow since it is filled with branches, tops of trees and tons of pine cones. Could have been worse. Not sure how our other house in Destin did will have to wait till roads are open or if (Highway) 98 is breached again on Okaloosa Island. Guess this will be a busy year. Hopefully the gas stations will have gas. I couldn't believe all the stations that sold all their gas by Friday around here. Gas and ice were like having gold around here on Friday and Saturday.
--Cindy, Shalimar, Florida

Real work begins Monday
I live in East Central Alabama and we have been very fortunate.  All around us, power is out and trees are down but we still have power.  It flickered one time and that's it.  I can't figure out how such a small town manages to keep the power on.  We never lost power during Ivan either.  It has been raining for hours and the wind has been high at times, but nothing like the west side of the state.  Sunday morning I was scared since I live in a mobile home, but I have faired better than people with big houses.  It's still raining and the wind has really slowed down now.  I don't think there are any trees down in my immediate area, but I haven't been out to see.  Tomorrow brings a new day and the real work begins.
--Angie, Sylacauga, Ala.

Big overture, little show
Dennis was not much of a menace We spent days worrying about Dennis -- getting groceries, making ice, hunting for D batteries, waiting in gas lines, emptying the yard, boarding the windows, etc. We watched the news diligently, fretting over should we evacuate or should we stay? For goodness sakes, Wal-Mart was closed on Saturday!!!!! We decided to stay just like we did during Ivan. Late Saturday/Early Sunday, we became scared since Dennis seem to be barreling down on us as a category 4 hurricane with 145 mile winds and knowing that there was little time to evacuate. The chances of getting a hotel room were slim without a 10-hour plus drive. The rain though light started on Saturday evening. Sunday the winds picked up around 9 a.m. We were elated that Dennis started moving North from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m., but then continued to move NNW (toward us in Mobile). I fell asleep around 10 a.m. due to sheer exhaustion and woke up at 1PM. I cannot tell you the elation I felt to find that Dennis moved North. You are always thankful that a hurricane bypasses you, even though you don't wish it on anyone else. We experienced some strong winds and a deluge of rain, but all in all, the storm was uneventful. Big overture, little show.
--Michelle Peterson, Mobile, Ala.

End of the line
I live in Tallahassee, which was a stop for evacuees. I had no thoughts of leaving. The wind was gusty and it was raining hard, but it was not much different than a strong thunderstorm. I have a tin roof and was enjoying the rain falling. I heard several large tree branches fall, and then a large boom. I didn't want to be on the evening news as the person who went outside to be hit by flying debris so I stayed inside. Nothing seemed to be damaged but the neighbor came by to see if I was alright since a tree had fallen on the roof! Part of the porch had been torn down and the tree was leaning on the roof, but still being blown back and forth by the wind. I grabbed a change of clothes and my 2 dogs and drove east on I-10 to Madison, Florida where my father lives. I don't know what shape the house will be in when I go back tomorrow, but at least I am alive. I have lived in Florida practically my entire life, but I think that this may just be the end of the line for me.
--Elizabeth Grant, RN Tallahassee, Florida

Hiding in the closet
We live in Key Biscayne, Fla., and at around 3 a.m. Saturday morning, we awoke to strong winds and horizontal rain. Since we live right in front of the beach, it felt as if the wind and the rain were going to come through the windows. We decided to get the kids and huddle inside our closet (the only room without windows) until the short cell passed. Half of the Key lost power and remained without electricity all day yesterday; you couldn't even go to the only grocery store in our village because it had no electricity. It is amazing to me that what we felt were just the outer bands! Today in church we gave thanks and prayed for everyone north of us. We are definitely leaving the key if we are ever in the direct path of any hurricane--I don't want to have to go in the closet again.
--Ana Roman, Key Biscayne, Fla.

Funnel clouds in Florida
The squalls came through here very quickly with more spinning clouds then I have ever seen accept for Xenia, Ohio! We left Ohio because of the tornados that were coming increasingly closer to our family! My Uncle is in Pensacola, Fla., as I write this letter! I hope that Harry and his wife Sharron are well and safe! I have a few pictures that do not do justice to the swirling clouds that I saw here in Hernando, Florida yesterday! I have only twice seen clouds boil with such anger and energy! I fully expected to see many funnel clouds hit the ground! Me and My neighbors are very lucky (or watched over) that none of the clouds that I saw never hit the ground! I can not express enough about how the clouds were boiling and churning! The power that can be generated by these types of storms is huge and very scary! We are very small in context to what Mother Nature can throw at us at any time that she wishes!
--Jack Casebolt Jr., Hernando, Fla.

Feeling fortunate
When we woke up this morning Hurricane Dennis (somehow I still want to say Ivan) had risen to a Category 4 and appeared to be headed for us here in Mobile -- after a couple of hours it became apparent that it was going to take a more northerly turn, lucky for us, but not so lucky (once again) for Pensacola. We are getting strong gusts and lots of rain, but we still have power and it appears the storm has begun landfall. We'll keep our fingers crossed and keep the folks that are affected by the storm in our prayers.
--Michele O'Brien, Mobile, Ala.

A fishy tale
I'm a Texan vacationing in Florida. Leave it to me to pick the worst time ever to come visit. Luckily I'm in the Tampa Bay area so the brunt of the storm eased by without too much trouble. However, I went down to the coast to see some natural phenomena, and to my amazement I saw 15 foot waves breaking on the sea wall. There were all sorts of fish washed up on the shore, even one gigantic 250 pound monster of a fish. There were numerous people around at the time and some of them were getting dangerously close to the sea wall. I would have to say beholding the power of a hurricane is a humbling experience. Thankfully nobody in the immediate vicinity was hurt. I wish the best for everybody in the Florida panhandle and west of it.
--John Dye, Denton, Tx.

Outer band strength
We just had high winds and torrential rains here in Winter Garden, Fla. that only lasted for 20 minutes, however we had branches 12 ft long and 8 in around break off our pine trees and hit the roof. In the streets in our neighborhood there are shingles and debris everywhere. If these are the outer bands, I feel really bad for where it hits!
--Christine Walden, Winter Garden, Fla.

Trees down, power on
I live in the Upper Keys (Islamorada) and we surely have felt the effects of Dennis. The winds howled and the rain came down in torrents. We lost half a dozen trees in our yard, two of them sixty footers. Spent the better part of the last two days with a chainsaw in my hand. The only plus to this was that we never lost power. still, it's a mild mess around my neighborhood.
--Gregg Goodrum, Tavernier, Fla.

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